Learning Disabilities and Communication Disorders

Abstract

Learning disability is related to brain disability. This paper first discusses the meaning of learning disability or communication disorder. It gradually tells that LD is inherited and is a lifelong impairment and continues to stay with people as they grow.

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This report illustrates that teaching children with a learning disability is a collaborative task, which needs the active participation of teachers, parents, professional therapists, and other support workers related to the children.

Learning disabilities refer to the disability of the brain in receiving, processing, storing, responding to, and communicating information. It is not a single disorder, but rather a group of neurological disorders relating to brain’s disability in receiving and processing information. It also obstructs the brain’s capability of storing information, responding to it, and communicating it with others. Learning disabilities are not the same as intellectual disabilities, cognitive disorders, motor disabilities, vision and hearing disorders or autism. It is not generated by emotional, cultural, economic, or environmental factors too. LD is a neurological disorder, and its impact varies on people of different age groups. These disorders leave a negative impact on a person’s ability to speak, think, read, spell, write, or listen. “A learning disability is a biological processing problem that impairs a person’s ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell and do math calculations” (Demystifying LD: 18 Facts You Need to Know, 2014, Para 1).

There are different types of LD, depending on the types of complexities involved. (Demystifying LD: 18 Facts You Need to Know, 2014).

Different types of learning disabilities and communication disorders

Type of learning disability characteristics causes Teaching strategies and placement options
Dyslexia
(Learning disability in reading)
The problem in reading, fluency, recognizing letters, understanding words and ideas, slow speed and fluency Heredity, problems during pregnancy,
Incidents after birth
IEP programs,
Speech-language therapy
Dyscalculia
(Learning disability in math)
The problem in memorizing and organizing numbers, number facts, operation signs, and counting principles, telling time Impaired development of brain’s mechanism, behavioral attention problem IEP programs, remedial programs, teaching computer skills,
Dysgraphia
(Learning disabilities in writing)
The problem in writing, copying letters and words, spelling consistency, comprehending and synthesizing information Brain damage, physical deformity,
Multiple mental images
IEP programs, use of computer
Dyspraxia
(Learning disability in motor skills)
Difficulty in movement and coordination in skills like running, writing, cutting, jumping, etc. Premature birth,
problems during pregnancy, consumption of alcohol, drugs, and smoking during pregnancy
One-to-one therapy, IEP, and support from professionals
Dysphasia
(Learning disability in language)
The problem in understanding and producing spoken language, for example, retelling a story or fluency in speech Stroke, brain injury or infection Speech-language therapy

(Kemp et al., 2013).

Diagnosing and Dealing with Learning Disabilities

LD can be diagnosed with the help of a child’s educational and medical history. The sources include the child, his parents, teachers, classroom observations, and other professionals who conduct several tests to discover the limitations and strengths of children with LD. However, there is no medical test required for diagnosing this disability. Most of the students in public schools in America who are undergoing special education programs are found with LD symptoms (Demystifying LD: 18 Facts You Need to Know, 2014).

It is important to provide a special educational service to the child once he is diagnosed with any type of LD. Their instruction has to be carefully targeted and individualized. Professionals, with experience in this field, need to apply research-based measures in this regard. It is important that each gets personal attention and instruction be conveyed depending on the requirements of the students. Instruction has to be distinguished according to the types of LDs. Most schools have adapted to IEPs (Individualized Education Plan). Besides this, Speech-Language Therapy is the most common and widespread technique in this field (What is an IEP? 2014).

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The Federal law IDEA (The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) directs every school to provide free and apt education, in an encouraging environment, to the children with any kind of learning disability. The civil right statue, Section 504, directs all schools to opt no discrimination policy against children with learning disabilities. Adequate financial assistance is granted to all public or private schools for special programs and actions coming under this section (Services in School for Children with Special Needs: What Parents Need to Know, 2011).

Speech-Language Therapy

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) determines that speech-language services are offered in schools to ensure valuable results. The speech-language pathologists are an integral part of the school faculties and play vital roles in education (Roles and Responsibilities of Speech-Language Pathologists in Schools, 2010).

In local public schools, there is a support system, including a team of therapists for providing speech and language therapy to children with learning disabilities. These therapists try to fulfill the special educational needs of pupils and provide support and assistance in teaching.

Here is a report based on the interview with a speech and language therapist working in a mainstream school to provide assistance and support to the teachers in making the lessons successful with the children having a learning disability. We can make certain efforts to ensure that the special programs for children with a learning disability are being carried out efficiently. The success of any such program depends on the collaborative efforts of all the people involved.

  • It is undisputed that children with LD require special attention treatment. To help the speech-language therapist in accomplishing his task, we need to provide an appropriate assessment of the communication difficulty of each child. This will enable him to plan special activities with the children with LD.
  • This assessment should be based on the classroom observation of the child, gaining information from parents, other teachers, and support workers. It would help him to identify the particular problem areas and decide the significant areas to be undertaken.
  • It is necessary that the therapist has an idea about the hindrance caused by the child’s disability in his academic performance is. This would help him in making adequate strategies to minimize the obstacles coming on the way of the individual students.
  • Another point to be noted is the mutual effort of parents, teachers, and other support workers in deciding the key problem areas and appropriate approaches to deal with them.
  • It is crucial that the therapist is informed about the child’s progress from time to time so that he may review the improvement in the problem areas and evaluate the relevance of the approaches.
  • Mainstream schoolteachers should be willing to take up training by the concerned therapists regarding the child’s communication needs. These efforts, according to the therapist, would help in carrying out his task successfully in the classroom.

Speech-language therapists can carry out their plans successfully only when they are provided with adequate support from teachers, school management, other support workers, and parents. Hence, it is important that they should get sufficient encouragement and facilitation for working out their plans successfully with the children with a learning disability.

To know more about the problems and apprehensions of the parents of children with a learning disability, an interview was conducted with the parents of a child having dyslexia. The quarry was regarding their expectations from the school and teachers of their child. Interview with the parents of the child revealed that they want certain kind of specific concern shown by the teacher to enhance the learning process of their child.

  • The teachers should create an environment clarifying the importance of the material being taught, its learning goals, and the expectations for quality performance while teaching.
  • Children with a learning disability need to be explained everything specifically. They should be given clear instructions regarding the task. Teachers should provide a clear allocation of grading for the task.
  • It is important to be very vigilant while teaching children with LD. They might misunderstand the instructions and may not carry out the task in the desired manner. Hence, they should be asked to repeat back the instructions before they start. Instructions should be clearly stated one by one by the teacher. The teacher should persistently check the children while working to make sure that they are following the instructions adequately.
  • Graphic organizers can make things easier while understanding the connections between ideas.
  • With the help of models of good quality work, teachers can motivate the children to perform quality work and fulfill academic expectations (Cascella & McNamara, 2005).

This report concludes that different activities are planned for different types and different levels of learning disability. The mainstream public schools are running special education programs for such children to ensure that they do not feel dejected and get detached from society.

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References

Cascella, P.W. & McNamara, K.M. (2005). Empowering students with severe disabilities to actualize communication skills. Teaching exceptional Children. 37 (3), 38-43

Demystifying LD: 18 Facts You Need to Know. (2014) Web.

Kemp, G., Smith, M. & Segal, J. (2013). Learning disabilities and disorders. Web.

Roles and responsibilities of speech-language pathologists in schools. (2010). Web.

Services in School for Children with Special Needs: What Parents Need to Know. (2011). Web.

What is an IEP. (2014). Web.

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